Bicarbonate of Soda
Bicarbonate of Soda has long been used by athletes to try stave off the effects of lactic acid that is build up during intense periods of anaerobic glycolosis (periods of intense activity lasting 30secs - several minutes).
When lactic acid is produced its function is to inhibit the transfer of energy in muscles and hence reduce muscle contraction and therefore performance.
The theory is that the alkali bicarbonate will lower the acidity levels in the muscles and hence delay the onset of the reduction in performance.
There is some scientific evidence and a good deal of anecdotal evidence that this does have an effect, for races of up to about 7 minutes and also repeated anaerobic repetitions, but you have to ensure the correct amounts are taken and be aware of the side effects.
Many athletes have abandonned using bicarbonate of soda aid their running as they experience side effects of indigestion and diarrhoea, which clearly inhibit performance. It is possible that they are taking the wrong dosage and also that the addition of sodium citrate to the supplement would help this. However, it is a far from uncommon side effect and is something the athlete should be aware of before trying it. NEVER try this for the first time on race day!
There are no known long-term side effects of taking bicarbonate of soda.
The recommendation is that the athlete has 300mg/kg of their mass if they are male and 250mg/kg if they are female. This should be split into 5 parts, starting 3 hours before running and then each dose being at 30 minutes intervals with the last one 1 hour before the effort.
The information here is written by an athletics coach who has read widely into the subject and not a sports nutritionist, so is about gearing your food and drink to the practicalities of running.
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